Did you know that you can see real Egyptian mummies in Oklahoma?! Yes, you read that right. There are Egyptian mummies in Oklahoma! They’re housed at the Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art in Shawnee, Oklahoma. This museum is located on the grounds of the former Saint Gregory’s University campus, but Oklahoma Baptist University owns the campus nowadays.
The permanent collection at the Mabee-Gerrer Museum is expansive in scope and time periods. I was able to see cuneiform tablets, Egyptian mummies, ancient Chinese artifacts, pieces from Medieval Europe, a Samurai helmet, African masks, a painting by Frederic Remington, and Native American artifacts all in one building. This museum literally has a little bit of everything.
The Mabee-Gerrer Museum opened in 1919 – making it one of the older museums in the state of Oklahoma. It is named for Benedictine Monk Father Gregory Gerrer. Father Gerrer displayed his collection on the campus of Saint Gregory’s High School and College in Shawnee, Oklahoma. Though Father Gerrer collected the pieces in the museum, he never intended to keep them only for himself. He wanted to share the world with Oklahoma and that is exactly what he did. He would often be found sitting in the museum and loved telling visitors about all of the objects in the collection. Sadly, he passed away in 1946.
Stephen Gyermek was hired as the museum director in 1957 and he expanded public programming for the museum. By 1962, the rooms that housed the museum were needed by the school and the collection was loaned to the Kirkpatrick Science and Arts Foundation in Oklahoma City. Work began immediately to create a permanent building for the museum and the Mabee Foundation generously donated a large amount of money. Ground was broken for the new facility in 1977 and the Mabee-Gerrer Museum opened to the public in 1979.
My Favorite Pieces
I am grateful Father Gerrer brought back pieces of the world to Oklahoma. As a historian, it is truly humbling to be in the same room as some of the pieces in the collection.
This museum also brings in collections from around the world on loan. As a child, I remember going to the Mabee-Gerrer Museum in 2004 to see the Etruscan Treasures Exhibit. The jewelry was absolutely breathtaking.
My two favorite artifacts in this museum are the Egyptian mummies and an ivory eagle from Japan.
First, I have always been fascinated by Egyptian culture – the pyramids, the pharaohs, and hieroglyphics. I took an undergrad class on the history of Ancient Egypt and Israel and absolutely loved it! So being able to actually see REAL mummies and artifacts from Egypt was actually really, really cool. I remember sitting in the gallery being in awe of what was in the room. History can be very humbling sometimes. I sat there looking at these mummies wondering what their lives had been like. Were they wealthy? What was their family like? What did they do every day?
My second favorite piece is a large ivory eagle sculpture from Japan. It is HUGE and the detail is so intricate. The bird looks like it could fly off of its perch! This piece of art is an ancient practice and the Mabee-Gerrer has an information plaque next to the sculpture that talks about illegal ivory hunting practices and encourages the preservation of the world’s elephants today. Way to go!
This museum is a hidden gem if you ask me! This would be the perfect place to take your family on a hot summer or cold winter day. They even have some free admission days – so check their website!
The Museum Today
If you would like to see more of the museum head on over to my YouTube Channel and check out my video: Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art: Shawnee, Oklahoma! The Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art is open to visitors year round hosting public and private events. I hope you’ll go check out this awesome place!
Happy Traveling! I’ll talk to ya soon! 🙂
1900 West MacArthur
Shawnee, OK 74804
Phone Number: 405-878-5300
For more information about hours, the history, gift shop items, or how to become a volunteer please visit their website!